ZYX Fuji vs. Lyra Helicon

Does anyone have experience with these carts? Looking for something to mate with VPI Aries/JMW 10.5 combo into ARC Ref.

Is there another that might be a better bet? (I guess the Shelter 901 is a bad choice with my arm). Would the Helicon SL do okay with my phono stage?

I know I'm asking a lot of cartridge questions so bear with me. Your thoughts and insight is greatly appriciated.

From the info listed on the ARC website, the Ref phono stage has 69db gain, so as long as you have about 15-20db gain in your preamp linestage, you should be just fine with either of those cartridges as far as gain is concerned.

You should be aware, as I just became, that the .5 improvements on the JMW arms have some outriggers that make the arm more suitable for lower compliance cartridges, and may do the trick for something like the Shelter. I cannot guarantee it, but it is a step in the right direction for them to have put these outriggers on the JMW.

That being said, I still think it is better to use the arm under less than maximum stress, regarding compliance, and the 2 cartridges you suggested are better in that regard.

They are both very good cartridges, and much would depend on personal preference. I would personally lean toward the ZYX Fuji, but it is not a large margin of difference. It is more of a "splitting hairs" decision, and could go either way, depending upon your tastes. Both would be right at home in any top quality analog rig. Some people consider the Lyra a little "lean" or "dry" on a relative scale. The ZYX is at its best on smaller to medium scale music(slightly better than the Shelter 901), but it still does quite well on large scale music, but not quite as well as the Shelter 901. Some people would say that overall, the Lyra is a fraction below the ZYX or Shelter 901. Again, I would say that this is very subjective, and they are close enough to have to listen and decide.

I don't think that you will be doing any suffering, no matter which cartridge you select from those two.
I was hoping you would chime in on this post. I see your responses to analog questions all the time here on Agone. Thanks for your thoughts, you seem to be one of the most knowledgable, and helpful gurus here.

If I can take your response a little further though.... I too have heard that the Helicon may be a little lean. Paired with my ARC LS25II, Ref phono, and ML speakers would this cart/combo be getting a little too lean?

I guess that is why I was inquiring about the Shelter originally, but as you and others have said I may be pushing it with my tonearm. Koetsu's seem to be a less than ideal match too.
Hi Cris,
I have two suggestions you could keep your present arm and get the Lyra Helicon. This medium compliance (12) cartridge should work fine with your arm.

You could get a Origin Live Silver tonearm with a Shelter 501 or 901 for about the same $$$$$$ as a Lyra Helicon.

After you do Tom's HI FI mod you will know what we are experiencing, read this thread.
Cmo, this "lean" thing is pretty subjective. I don't really know if you will consider it lean in your system or not. I do know that the Lyra Helikon is a very highly regarded cartridge, and I think it would not have that reputation if it had any real serious problems. It may be a bit on the lean side in some settings, but I doubt it is too far from correct.

If you are at all concerned about that, then go for the ZYX Fuji. I think that the ZYX is probably a couple of hairs better than the Helikon anyway, and it doesn't have a problem with a lean or dry sound. It is one of the most detailed and delicate cartridges that I know of. It is fully equal to the Shelter 901 in just about every way. The ZYX even betters the 901 in delicacy, and the Shelter is a little better in symphonic large-scale music and has about the best bass response of any cartridge I know. Overall, the Fuji and the 901 are about a head-to-head tie, with each one outdoing the other very slightly in certain areas. I think the Helikon is more around the level of the Shelter 501, which is certainly not bad, since the 501 is the cartridge that I use myself. These are all great sounding cartridges, and as I said before, you are not going to be disappointed with any of them. It is just splitting hairs to decide between them. Any way you go, your analog system will sound excellent with any of these cartridges. If you tie me down to a pick, I'd pick the ZYX Fuji.
It is incredible how false information become "fact" on the web. The Helikon when properly loaded is neither "lean" nor "dry" sounding. in fact it is an extremely musical performer in the right setup: rich and robust in the midrange without thickness; with extended bass and treble; while at the same time having a very smooth and detailed presentation.

The problem, I think, is that most people who characterize the Helikon as lean, etc., use the standard loading of 47K ohms. When properly loaded between 100-1000 ohms, the Helikon will provide all the richness that is in the grooves.
Gmorris, I agree that proper loading will make a world of difference in the sound. I feel that just leaving the loading at 47k really does interfere with the proper function and sound of a good cartridge that is not designed to be loaded at 47k. I, too, think the Helikon is a great cartridge. I think I was pretty fair in my personal assessments above.
I think, too, the Helikon is a good cartridge.
Based on the big differences with quality of a Phono Stage and the load it is difficult to give a final Statement.
The Helikon is made for 47 K, like all Lyras.

From the musical presentation I like the Zyx cartridges, they are not ultra analytic and dry like some others, they are more in a natural presentation. I like my 1000 for example very much.
Thomasheisig, I disagree. I have owned several Lyras. The manufacturer's instructions for the Helikon recommends loading values from 10 - 47k ohms. 47K was not specifically recommended by the manufacturer. However, the higher values could produce a more "spacious and open" sound. The manufacturer did suggest experimentation. I have tried values from 100 to 47k with my ARC PH2 and have determined that, in my system, 100 ohms provided sufficient liquidity and richness without compromising "air" "spaciousness" and "treble extension".
I believe you, when you write that in your System sounds best with a xyz load. It is in a way System dependant,
when I go down from 47 k ot let's say 100ohms I can NOT hear some Details I heard before.
They are gone. And the presentation became slow, more dull, out of life and air.

Lyra made all carts for 47K ( from design ) and later, when they were in the market, they saw, they have problems with their recommendation for 47k only, because there are not much phono stages out there, which can handle that in the best way. same politics for High Output MC's, btw.
Life is much easier for all with a recommendation from 10 ohms to 47k ohms. It is very good for sale and the dealers recommend them faster ....
Well, I used my Lyra's with 47k, here they sounded best in my System. I remember a Importer recommendation ( some years ago ) who told me, to go for 47 K when I have a good phono stage which is silent ....
Anyway, fun counts.

I guess I do not have "..a good phono stage which is silent...". Your ranting is based purely on "hearsay" from some "importer". It is incredible how willing you are to take the word of an importer over the manufacturer.

My point is simple: if the Helikon appears to be lean in tonal balance after using a 47k load, try lower loading values (even as low as 100 ohms). The actual loading value depends on the associated gear, room and personal preference.
With many moving coil cartridges set at 47k ohms, the high frequencies get accented a little with a rising frequency response. Some people like this, and some people don't. Personally, I don't, and load my cartridges at or near the manufacturer's recommendations, which in my case with a Shelter is 100 ohms or 40 ohms with a transformer. Some people I know load them higher and prefer it. If you want a little bit of extra "zing" in the high end, that is one way to get it.
Hi Chris,

I am using the ZYZ R100 Fuji Low Output since over 1 year now, and I find it it one of the very best MC's ever. Only the ZYX R-1000 is probably better, and that costs really a fortune. I had the following MC's for comparison: Lyra Parnassus DC, Shelter 901, Koetsu Urushi, Koetsu Onyx, Koetsu Rosewood, v.d.Hul Grasshoppers, Benz Ruby II, and Transfiguration.
I have several input transformers incl. the ZYX 1000, and
with that the Fuji outperformed all of them. Period.
It is the most neutral, most "not-there" cartridge I'ver ever heard. Some find it slightly boring. That is because in my "ears" they are fixed on stunning colorations, which the ZYX does not produce. Spacial information is outstanding: Where there is air filled with something unnatural with most cartridges, with the ZYX there is just air. It feels so real, that you can grasp the instruments.

But... music material is also what matters! If you listen to jazz, classical music, natural recordings, then that is
the right cartridge. If you listen mainly to Rock and electrical music, you might find it boring. As it is neutral, i.e. it shows as well the mistakes on recordings. Most rockmusic is artificial, and you can hear that.

The VPI arm is by no means wrong for the Shelter 901. I would rate the 901 third after the Top Koetsus, which have some kind of magic, that has to be heard in the right system.

Anyway: I cannot say anything about active MC-stages, I do not like those. MC-Transformers are a must (exception is an old French design but that is unavailable). Mc-trannies are very difficult, the Jensen transformers are good, forget any Ortofon, but the ZYX 100 is supposed to be great as well.

If you have decided to buy the Fuji, then mail me, and I can give you some hints.


The Shelter 901 and the ZYX R100 Fuji sound very different. About as different as a v.d.Hul compared to a Koetsu! The 901 is much closer to a Top Koetsu (Urushi) in its presentation than the ZYX. The ZYX is so extremly neutral, that it has no competition. It is not there!

But remember: The ZYX has a hallow cantilever! This means, you must use no liquid cartridge cleaners, but the Zero Dust
cleaner!!! Or a 400Hz cleaner like once made by Goldring or AT. These do work fine as well. Also the stylus is very very tiny: picks up dirt very quickly if the records are not clean!